History in the ground

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I received a note from Kenny Brackett, former owner of Ken’s Meats in Landrum, reminding me of the Monday night meeting of the South Carolina Treasure Hunters and Artifact A ssociation. Kenny is president of this metal searching, treasure-hunting club.
When the Landrum Train depot was restored, Kenny used his metal detector skills to find coins and artifacts displayed at the opening of the depot. I want to learn more about this intriguing hobby so I’m headed to Greer to attend their monthly meeting.
The group was formed in 1988.  Most of the members are history buffs, and enjoy digging up artifacts from the past. When I arrived, several of the members were gathered around tables with small bags containing their latest finds. The tabletop is divided into different categories including, coins, jewelry, what is it, and other.
I learn that later they will vote on the best finds of the month to win prizes.
There’s a lot of talking and laughing as they peruse all the recently recovered objects. I look things over and see several rings, some old coins including some large, vintage Italian pieces. A watch, a Staff Sergeant collar pin, a Palmolive soap token and a dog tag from a mutt named Danney catch my eye.
The meeting begins. It’s announced that they have a gold testing device and a diamond testing device at the meeting tonight. Kenny tells about his recent beach vacation and discovering a cache of 1940’s foreign coins and 1950’s coal miner’s tokens.  He’s puzzled how they all came to be within a  400′ radius of his beach house. But part of the fun is the mystery of not only finding the objects, but also dreaming up a story of how they ended up buried and hidden for so many years.
One of the long time members, Norman Lewis, tells me a story about the National Park Service recruiting their organization to help locate the exact location of Daniel Morgan’s encampment. They searched the Cowpens area and found eight impacted round balls but were unable to pinpoint where the group had camped the night before the famous battle.
He recounts another search from the Civil War Battle of Petersburg, Virginia where he found a piece of an exploded bomb.  Norman gives me a “Treasure Hunting Code Of Ethics List” that must be followed when doing a search on private or public property.
It’s time to announce the winners of the night for the most interesting “finds. The Italian coins take first place in the Coin Division with a 1905 dime coined in San Francisco taking second. A sterling silver ring is first in the Jewelry Division. A Marine Corp World War I Knife wins the Military division. The winners each receive an old coin.
As the evening comes to a close I chat with some of the members. Did you know the metal detector makes different sounds for different metals?
It can differentiate between something like aluminum foil and gold.  I learned that members have helped tourists find keys or valuables lost in the sand at the beach.
In criminal cases they are called to search areas for guns and bullet casings. And as the Code Of Ethics states, discoveries of items of significant historical value must be reported to local historians or museums.
If metal detecting is your hobby, you would enjoy the camaraderie, the friendliness, and the knowledge of the members of this treasure hunters association.
If you’re interested in attending the next meeting, it will be June 30 at 7:15, at The Greer Recreation Center, 226 Oakland Ave, Greer SC or contact Kenny at kennybrackett@windstream.net.

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